Louisiana's Window to the World

Article excerpt

Thanks to a five-year project that resulted in the development of the Louisiana Library Network, every man, woman, and child in Louisiana now has the ability to cruise, peruse, and ultimately use the resources of the Louisiana State Library, 18 academic libraries, 66 independent public library systems, 20 public and private K-12 school libraries, and the Internet as well. Unlike other state networks, which may link libraries of one type, the LLN pulls together the resources of many types of libraries for the benefit of Louisiana residents and students.

The Louisiana Library Network provides residents access to such diverse things as the catalogs of LOUIS, the Louisiana Online University Information System; over 1,800 journals (more than 900 are full-text); Internet resources, such as genealogy data from Provo, Utah; full text of classic literature; government information from many local and federal agencies; reproductions of art from museums around the world; song lyrics; recipes; movie reviews; discussion groups; and more.

Born of an idea generated in 1990, the Louisiana Library Network had several goals: to automate and network the state's public and academic libraries; to increase library cooperation throughout the state to maximize information resources and manpower; to provide access to journal databases, the Internet, and other online resources; to extend network access to public libraries in every parish and selected schools; and to link to other automated libraries inside and outside of Louisiana.

In 1993, Louisiana received a $2.48 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the comprehensive statewide network. The grant paid for workstations, telecommunications hardware, and access fees for libraries in each of the parishes. Access to the network for the majority of sites was in place by late 1994. LaNET, a wide-area multi-protocol telecommunications network, forms the backbone of the network. Ten academic LaNET sites volunteered to accommodate the public and school libraries by serving as LLN hub sites, thus reducing the monthly cost of Internet connection.

One of the ongoing projects of LLN is "Info Louisiana," a resource that will provide state government, recreation, cultural, and tourism information as well as current job postings from the Department of Labor. …